Cherokee County Board of Commissioners members recently heard an update on state and local plans to ease congestion on area roads.

County Engineer Geoff Morton went over specific projects taking place in Cherokee County, including the widening of Georgia Highway 20 from Interstate 575 to Forsyth County. The latest estimates show that the first phase of the project, from the interstate to Scott Road, should be completed by December of 2022, while other sections of the road are set to be bid on next summer and the ultimate completion of all phases believed to be sometime in 2025.

West of Canton, Morton said the Georgia Department of Transportation has also started looking at a potential widening of Ga. Highway 20 to the Bartow County line, although the current timeline shows work not beginning until around 2027.

Although GDOT has not sped up the timetable on widening Ga. Highway 140 between Canton and Fulton County from its current projection of sometime in the 2030s, the county is still pushing forward with smaller projects designed to help try and alleviate some of the traffic issues along that corridor. These include installing a traffic light at Sugar Pike Road and Highway 140 and adding additional turn lanes at the intersections with both East Cherokee Drive and Hickory Road/Batesville Road. While each of these projects are in various stages of completion, Morton argued these would have a positive impact on traffic flow in the area.

Morton said progress is still being made to try and establish a truck bypass around Ball Ground. Over the summer, public input was collected, while officials worked out seven potential routes that could work as a bypass for tractor-trailers, helping ease traffic concerns in downtown Ball Ground. A total of 226 responses were collected, with an overwhelming majority being in favor of an alternate truck route starting at a roundabout at the intersection of Ball Ground Highway and Howell Bridge Road, crossing the railroad tracks there and cutting east before joining Ga. Highway 372 east of town at the Flat Bottom Road intersection. This route was believed to be the best path due to its relative minimal impact on local waterways and residential developments in the area.

In order to widen a portion of Bells Ferry Road, Morton said the county in the process of obtaining all the necessary rights-of-way, while GDOT is working on the engineering phase of the project. He said the county is working with the city of Woodstock on an effort to widen the off-ramps of Interstate 575 at Towne Lake Parkway, as well as the portion of Towne Lake Parkway at the interstate, to ease some of the congestion issues there, where vehicles can sometimes back up onto the interstate. Similarly, the county and Woodstock have been working together on Ridgewalk Parkway at 575, with the preferred solution being to develop the first “diverging diamond” interchange in Cherokee County. The design is in use in Cobb County at the interchange of Windy Hill Road and I-75.

Lastly, Morton pointed out a handful of roundabouts that are in development, including Woodstock Road at Victory Drive, Wiley Bridge Road at Cox Road, Batesville Road at Sugar Pike Road, Union Hill Road at Lower Union Hill Road and Holbrook Campground Road at Birmingham Road. He also listed work being done to replace bridges in need of replacing, including Lower Dowda Mill Road over Sharp Mountain Creek, Union Hill Road over Canton Creek, Transart Parkway over Toonigh Creek, Waters Road over Mill Creek and Vaughn Road over Mill Creek.

Once Morton had concluded his presentation, the commissioners had a handful of questions and comments for him.

“Anything planned at Lower Birmingham and Sugar Pike? I know you’ve got the roundabout going in at Batesville,” Commission Chair Harry Johnston asked.

Morton responded, “Not yet, but I anticipate, that’s a good candidate for a roundabout,” adding this could be one of the next intersections the county could look at in the future, once the major corridor studies have been completed.

“I wish they (GDOT) would just speed up that 140 from 2032,” Commissioner Ray Gunnin said. “I don’t know what we’re going to be like in 2032.”

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